Centre for Genomic & Experimental Medicine
Centre for Genomic & Experimental Medicine

Dr Alexander Laird begins MRC CARP award to study kidney cancer

Dr Laird will carry out a 3 year research project in collaboration with CGEM and IGC’s Professor Tim Aitman, investigating the use of cell free DNA to monitor kidney cancer

Dr Alexander Laird
Dr Alexander Laird

Dr Alexander Laird commences a prestigious MRC Clinical Academic Research Partnership with Professor Tim Aitman at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer this month. Alex is a Consultant Urological Surgeon based at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, and an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, who treats patients with kidney cancer. 

Kidney cancer is the 7th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 4% of all adult cancers, with an increase in incidence of 36% over the last 10 years. The surgery Alex and his colleagues perform is often curative, however unfortunately 1/3 of patient undergoing surgery subsequently develop recurrent, mostly incurable disease. Predicting disease recurrence to allow stratification of follow-up or targeting of adjuvant therapy is one of the main unmet needs for patients with kidney cancer.

Alex has received funding to identify circulating cell free DNA in patients with kidney cancer and determine whether the identification of this marker can be used to predict disease recurrence or identify minimal residual disease. To do this, Alex will use matched tissue, blood and urine from over 400 patients with kidney cancer treated in NHS Lothian who have generously donated samples over the last 4 years. It is hoped that this work will help personalise follow-up for patients following surgery and stratify those who will benefit most from adjuvant immunotherapy, improving outcomes and quality of life for patients with kidney cancer.

I’m delighted Alex has won this MRC fellowship. Not only is it an important recognition of his personal profile in Molecular Oncology, but it will enable us to build on the substantial bioresource that Alex has built up over the past few years and to implement the programme that we have been planning jointly over this period

Professor Tim Aitman


Alexander Laird Twitter profile (external) 

Tim Aitman Research Group